Sounds True IT manager Chris Grenard reluctantly signed up the Louisville company for faster fiber-based Internet two months ago.
Comcast Enterprise was, really, the only option, he said. The other was a T1 line offering just 1.5 mbps. So he ordered the 300 mbps plan for $2,000 a month.
But as CenturyLink announced Monday its Colorado gigabit push to businesses in Aurora, Boulder and Fort Collins, Grenard said he wishes Internet service providers would share plans to help future customers.
“We signed a four-year contract, so we’re hosed,” said Grenard, who gets CenturyLink’s gigabit service at his Denver home for about $130 a month. “It’s very easy to get tied into a long-term contract because companies are very unwilling to share their intent.”
Gigabit Internet, which is 100 times faster than a home user’s 10-mbps plan, continues to be elusive in Colorado, with pricing even more so. Prices range from $50 to several thousand dollars to “Please Call.” And even in cities where service is available, customers often need to call to check.
That said, such speeds aren’t necessary for most people — even heavy video streamers. CenturyLink recommends 20 mbps for its Prism TV service. But businesses have a growing need for speed, said Andrew Dugan, vice president of global network architecture and engineering at Level 3 Communications in Broomfield.
As they move customer management, communication and other tools to the cloud, businesses require faster, more reliable download and upload speeds.
“As more and more services move to the Internet, there is going to be less data stored on the premises,” he said. “Enterprise businesses are going to need faster access to it, and high-performance access.”
The promise of gigabit Internet did wonders to help the Kansas City, Mo., business community, said Mike Burke, a Kansas City attorney who co-chaired the city’s effort to become the first to get Google Fiber in 2011.
“We had a fairly robust tech community here but it was disjointed,” said Burke, pointing to big brands like Sprint and Garmin. “What the Google announcement did was bring the community together.”
Google began rolling out its business option in Kansas City last year. It starts at $100 a month for 1 gbps download and upload speeds.
“It’s had an interesting impact on the competition, a number of whom are upping their game to be more competitive,” Burke added.
Google Fiber, which registered to do business in Colorado in March, won’t talk about plans here. A few years ago, Boulder was probably on the list but was dropped because of a restrictive state law. That changed last fall, when voters opted themselves out of the law, and Boulder now is pursuing a private-public partnership to use city-owned fiber.
“Certainly, if Google was in the mix, we’d love to have that conversation,” said Don Ingle, Boulder’s director of Information Technology.
Comcast, meanwhile, says it has offered 1 to 10 gbps to metro Denver businesses since about 2011. Gigabit speeds are available to businesses throughout “the majority of Comcast” service areas in Colorado, said Cindy Parsons, a Comcast spokeswoman. Prices are not available but on the Comcast Business’ site, the 150 mbps plan is $250 a month.
It doesn’t offer gigabit to residents yet. But Denver residents can expect Comcast Gigabit Pro, with speeds up to 2 gbps, arriving this year, she said.
Elsewhere, Rise Broadband, formerly JAB Broadband, offers wireless gigabit service to cities including Loveland, Montrose and Pueblo. Businesses must be within 15-miles of Rise’s fixed-wireless towers. Prices for 1 gbps are around $2,500, but most business customers order between 20 mbps and 200 mbps.
CenturyLink’s gigabit expansion is limited to business customers and is available to 92,000 in the state — or approximately 15 percent of Colorado companies.
“Comcast is offering residential solutions with a consumer play and selling it to business,” said Penny Larson, CenturyLink’s vice president of Colorado operations. ” … We’re trying to scale the solutions we’re offering Fortune 500 companies and building it for small businesses.”
For residents, CenturyLink rolled out the gigabit service in 16 Denver neighborhoods and businesses last August.
Where Gigabit Internet is in Aurora, Boulder, Fort Collins
Aurora: Fitzsimmons redevelopment, Lowry redevelopment, Aurora Mall, Buckingham Mall redevelopment, The Forum at Fitzsimmons, Buckley Air Force Base
Boulder: 29th Street Mall, Pearl Street Mall, University Hill
Fort Collins: Selected areas